Last month, Barhyte Specialty Foods’ “Saucy Mama Team” took a trip to Kissimmee, Florida for the World Food Championships (WFC). The team, comprised of Suzie "Saucy Mama" Barhyte, Colette (Barhyte's Marketing and PR Manager) and brand ambassador MaryAlice, was there to support their Saucy Mama sponsored competitors. To catch up on previous WFC posts, check out this post.
And now, here’s a recap of this year’s trip, as told by Colette!
We arrived in hot, humid Florida the evening of November 3rd, and after we checked into our enormous three-bedroom suite at the Westgate Resort, we decided to go check out the WFC competition site (Kitchen Coliseum) in downtown Celebration. Celebration is a darling, small town originally developed by the Walt Disney Company. It looks as through it’s out of a storybook with its perfectly developed community around a small lake.
As we wandered down the main street, we found - to our wonderful surprise - this awesome banner decorating the site:
This banner was for our sponsored event, as part of the Food Fight Write (FFW) Blogger’s Summit. The summit was held just a couple days before WFC and culminated in Saucy Mama’s Blogger Challenge, where participants put to use some of the skills they learned about competitive cooking during the event.
And boy, what an awesome challenge it was! Held the following day in the Kitchen Coliseum, our blogger competition was the first one to take place in that venue- to kind of initiate the start of the 2015 WFC. The Saucy Mama team made a loop around the arena to say a quick hello to each competitor, and it was great seeing both familiar faces and new ones using Saucy Mama product on Kansas City Steaks (another great sponsor!) to try to win the $500 first place grand prize. We had a blast meeting everyone.
That evening at the WFC Welcome Reception, WFC CEO Mike McCloud announced the winner of the Saucy Mama Food Blogger Challenge:
Rebecka’s blog, At Home with Rebecka, is one we were actually familiar with, as she had competed in our 2015 Saucy Mama Recipe Contest with a delicious sweet and sour noodle bowl. The recipe that won her the FFW champion title, however, was her Sante Fe Filet with Poblano Ranch Pan Sauce, Roasted Corn Skewers and Corn Fried Green Tomato Chips! Phew, that’s a mouthful to say…and it WAS a mouthful of deliciousness when it hit the judges’ taste buds. We were so happy for Rebecka’s first place finish.
Isn't this picture just too cute?! Above - from left to right- is a smiling Emily Ellyn, Kari Karch, Rebecka Evans, Suzie Barhyte and Beth Peterson!
In second place was Ken Hulme from The Kilted Cook with his Filet Floribeño con Escabeche, and in third place was Cho Wut Yee from Wutyee Food House (she came to the event all the way from Myanmar!) with her Smoky Garlic Filet. We are so happy with this year’s group of competitors... seriously, they are the NICEST people! A special thank you to everyone whom participated! We'll post pictures from the event soon! In the meantime, here's a cool shot from the welcome reception held at the Westgate Hotel pool:
The rest of the week brought lots more foodie fun as we watched and supported various friends in each of the WFC categories. Suzie also had the opportunity to judge the recipe category, which was a fun experience. Our big day was on Friday when our three Saucy Mama sponsored competitors took their spots in the sandwich competition arena. It was a HOT day, as most days were during that week in Kissimmee. Our saucy gals - Merry, Lisa and Rebecca T. – were thankfully all on the same side of the kitchen, so it was easy to watch each one making their creations. The girls did wonderfully, and we couldn’t be prouder of the hard work and camaraderie displayed.
Below, Lisa's on camera with previous sandwich champion, Jennifer Daskevich:
Here's Rebecca Terpack, another Saucy Mama sponsored competitor (AND a fellow Oregonian!), getting prepped to cook her signature sandwich:
Below, Merry's in the zone cooking with her son David and friend (also, WFC's 5th place dessert competitor!) Heather Walker:
That night at awards, we we’re so anxious to find out if our girls made it into the top ten round. To our delight, both Merry and Lisa did! Lisa placed 4th in the top ten while Merry placed 7th. Rebecca ended up scoring 12th overall in the sandwich category, which is fabulous- especially for being a first time competitor at WFC!
Merry and Lisa competed in the top ten sandwich finals on Sunday, November 8 th. The theme of the round was an egg sandwich, and the gals gave it their all. Lisa shared with us that her recipe came to her in a dream a couple nights before; it literally woke her from her sleep! Merry, on the other hand, had been practicing making her eggs for her sandwich over and over before the big day. We made sure to catch up with both gals and give them big hugs after that round...it was finally over, and out of their control!
That night at the top ten awards, everyone was nervous. The person who placed first in each category received $10,000 and moved on to compete in the final table…with a chance to win $100,000. We were so proud to hear the big announcement that Merry placed 4th overall and Lisa placed 3rd! We were bursting-at-the-seams excited for them; it was an incredible accomplishment by both women. (Don’t worry, we’ll be sharing most of these recipes here in the next couple weeks). We celebrated that evening at Columbia Restaurant right there in Downtown Celebration. They make delicious table-side mojitos and have an incredibly friendly staff!
The next day was completely free- no WFC events were scheduled- so we used that time to go explore Epcot! We toured the World Pavilion where the Food and Wine Festival was taking place. We ate nachos and margaritas in Mexico and tried beers and waffles in Belgium. We all had our go at some of the rides, too! For dinner, we ate at the restaurant in Morocco, and it was delicious. We had an excellently fun day, although we were exhausted by the end of it! Below is the very start of the day...when we we're still feeling fresh:
The final table – where each category winner competes against the others – was held on Tuesday the 10th. It’s a quieter day since many people have to go back home to “real life”, but the anticipation is still there! Team Smoking Hills of the BBQ category claimed the grand prize and title of 2015 World Food Champion. Congrats Smoking Hills! You can view all WFC scores here. It was fun to be a part of that big day, since we’ve usually gone home in years past. Actually, the entire experience was incredible to be a part of: the camaraderie between opponents, the delicious food and the happy spirit of friends doing what they love is so inspiring. As the WFC-goers say, “friends first, competitors second”. And it truly shows.
We’ll be posting many of these fabulous WFC recipes, pictures and videos in upcoming posts, so keep an eye out!